This past weekend, THE X-FILES stars Gillian Anderson, David Duchovny, and Mitch Pileggi, along with series creator Chris Carter, spoke with reporters at New York Comic-Con. Without giving away too much, the talent shared some details about what we might expect in THE X-FILES season 11 and even took a look back at how the series’ main characters have changed.
Closing out that cliffhanger…
THE X-FILES’ last all-new episode ended with humanity — especially fans’ beloved Fox Mulder — in crisis. While nobody was exactly going to give away THE X-FILES’ biggest secret, namely exactly who (besides the obvious) survived the Spartan virus and how, the talent was able to give some hints.
“We do have some exposition to take care of — to get ourselves out of the mess that we got ourselves into — but that’s dispensed with rather quickly,” teased Duchovny. Don’t expect said exposition to be straightforward, though. Mitch Pileggi called the first THE X-FILES season 11 script as “a head spinner.”
Anderson’s take on where the series’ new season finds us? “The human race still exists. Mulder and Scully are still alive. We’re still working on the X-Files,” and Scully is “still immortal.” However, you’ll have to tune in when THE X-FILES returns because “how we get there is the question mark that [Anderson] can’t answer.”
Which brings us to the next piece of that puzzle: William. As has already been confirmed by various outlets, William will play a role in THE X-FILES season 11. So, how does that story play out, and how does it feel for the cast?
Heading into New York Comic-Con, THE X-FILES team was actually working on the episode slated to feature William’s big debut. But is he only appearing in a single episode? The only person who knows is Chris Carter — and he wasn’t sharing. Not much, anyway.
But here’s what we do know, straight from Carter’s own mouth: “I think people who are interested in the William story are going to be happy to know that we’re dealing with that in an interesting way. You can expect more William this time out.”
For Anderson, even this single episode (so far?) was a move in a good direction: “It’s nice to have a face to our child that we talk a lot about.”
On how the THE X-FILES’ main characters have developed over the years.
Duchovny discussed the evolution of his personal portrayal of Fox Mulder, explaining, “I do the lines as they are written. But, at some point, I decided that I knew who this guy was — that this was my character.” Looking back, his initial attraction to Mulder was his drive to “speak the truth, no matter what the consequences…To me, that was the inherent basis of the character — was a guy who didn’t mind being a fool.”
As far as the character itself, though, Duchovny wasn’t quite as clear. He admitted to worrying that “maybe Mulder really has changed,” but at his core, he’s remained the same. “There’s a certain kind of fearlessness about the guy,” and Fox Mulder is still “the worst FBI agent of all time,” having solved about zero cases in more than 200 episodes.
On the other hand, Dana Scully has gone through at least one noticeable change: She’s managed to lighten up, especially what with stunts like that Grand Theft Dog stunt in season 10. Scully’s is, according to Gillian Anderson, “more relaxed than she used to be.” This type of growth is “something that maybe happens with age,” in general, and could potentially be the result of having had some much-needed time off from the X-Files.
For Anderson, there’s also the unique dynamic of playing the same character after having aged. She discussed working around changing facial features and the “interesting question to answer [of] figuring out what elements of [Scully’s] personality are appropriate in a mature woman.”
The biggest transformation, though, may have been for Walter Skinner. “Initially, he was brought in pretty much as a roadblock — in cahoots with The Cigarette Smoking Man,” said Mitch Pileggi. But once Skinner realized what was actually happening and that he was being played, that changed “because Skinner is a man with such a strong moral compass — that’s Chris [Carter’s] word, and I’m stealing it from him.”
What else should viewers expect in THE X-FILES season 11? A little bit of everything, aka “the mix that you’ve come to expect on THE X-FILES.”
The upcoming season will feature some humorous moments mixed in with all the drama, which Gillian Anderson reminded reporters shouldn’t be entirely unexpected. “From the very beginning — from the very first season — we’ve had episodes that were…that are comedic episodes. And so, I think that is something that the fans do expect.” Anderson also teased that “there’s a pretty sharp left turn that happens” in the episode penned by Darin Morgan.
The real world’s political climate will have an impact on the new season.
According to Carter, “we deal with the political realities of today in the show…It’s a really curious time to be doing THE X-FILES because, you know know, the show is a science fiction show. But really it’s a science show. Scully’s science is the center and core of the show, and Mulder’s belief, which could be called the conspiracy aspect of the show, was always out there. And he wants to believe. Now, it’s the opposite. People have thrown science out the window, and they believe in conspiracy theories. So, we’re dealing with a situation that’s almost completely reversed.”
According to Mitch Pileggi, the current political climate “definitely affects where Skinner has been, where he’s going, and what he’s doing now.” But in Pileggi’s mind, the impact was on far more than just his character — because the outside world has affected the series’ very core: “This time right now is so rich for THE X-FILES because it’s all conspiracies and lies. Nobody’s telling the truth. The truth ain’t out there anymore, man! Everybody’s lying. About everything.”
And when asked how the very real mess of American politics would factor in to THE X-FILES season 11, Pileggi was noticeably excited. “Ohhh, wait’ll you see,” he quipped.
David Duchovny seemed concerned that Mulder “might be a little guy that says, ‘fake news,’ too, which is unsettling.” The actor essentially echoed Carter’s assessment of filming THE X-FILES in 2017: “I think it’s interesting to think about the show in this climate
For Gillian Anderson, though, Trumpism and fake news haven’t exactly affected how she’s approached the work. “It’s hard to parody a parody,” after all. She went on to say that with what’s happening in the world, “all bets are off at the minute. So, on the one hand, that’s exciting. But on the hand, it’s tedious.”
Fans of Mitch Pileggi’s Walter Skinner have something to look forward to in THE X-FILES season 11.
The series’ eleventh season will include a “Skinner-centric episode,” in which viewers will get “to find out a lot about who he is and why he is the way he is.” The story was penned by Gabe Rotter and actually fits in with a lot of Pileggi’s personally-developed backstory for the character.
Having internalized Chris Carter’s original notes on Skinner’s Vietnam background, Pileggi had a good picture of who the character was. But this season, “we find out a lot more about where he’s coming from.”
And last, but certainly not least, there’s always that all-important Mulder-Scully relationship, which Chris Carter says “we deal with in a new and interesting way” in season 11.
Here’s hoping “new” means actually admitting it’s out there, real, and not remotely platonic. After all, there’s no way “it makes plausible sense where we find [Mulder and Scully]” in the upcoming season without finally showcasing the romantic side of things…right?
But here’s what you can’t expect: your standard definition of closure, whether THE X-FILES continues after season 11 or not.
Chris Carter shot that notion down right away, asking, “what is closure?”
The writer went on to explain that “you think you have closure. But all of a sudden, what you imagined was finished, or done, or past comes back — somehow — in the future. Just like life itself. So, I think until a character dies, there’s no complete closure. And so far, in this season, we haven’t killed off any main characters.”
That “so far” part is a bit worrying…
Other details from inside THE X-FILES press room at NYCC:
- Which episode is Chris Carter excited for fans to see? “All of them, right now.”
- Before getting a chance to kick off her question and answer session, Gillian Anderson joked that she wouldn’t be as interesting as Mitch Pileggi. “I’m not going to be that entertaining. I’m sorry,” the actress warned after hearing an outburst of laughter from the table Pileggi was at. The verdict? Anderson’s always entertaining, especially when she drops lines like “what the fuck?!” after being asked her first impression upon reading the season premiere script.
- Speaking of Pileggi. Here’s a good quote to keep in your back pocket, fans: “I’ve been with Skinner so long, and he’s just part of me.”
- Via David Duchovny: “As an actor, you’re constantly guarding against any kind of self-consciousness. That’s the death of acting — somebody watching themselves.”
- ”The miracle on this show, for me, is how many good people have come onto it. And their participation, and their good ideas, have made it better.” Chris Carter on one of the elements of THE X-FILES that has remained consistent for the life of the series.
- One of those good people, though he wasn’t in attendance at New York Comic-Con, was William B. Davis. According to Mitch Pileggi, he recently filmed a scene that was “so cool…and it was so simple.”
- Although she’s been an advocate for the inclusion of more female voices in THE X-FILES’ writer’s room, Anderson didn’t want to take away from what the character’s male creator had accomplished. “Scully was created by a man,” she said, “and I would say that Chris did right by women in creating Scully.” Gillian hasn’t had the chance to read one of the scripts written by women writers yet, but she’s “interested in what it would be like to have those other voices.”
- ”I think you could bring this show back and just completely parody it now, and people would come back.” Chris Carter on a potential (not really realistic but shhh) all humor, all the time parody of his own creation. (Spoiler alert: We’d watch it.)
- Gillian Anderson’s favorite part of playing Dana Scully? “That eye-roll element of her. What is that called?” For the record, nobody could quite put a proper phrase to it. Maybe we should just call it Scullyness.
THE X-FILES returns to FOX in 2018.